The Nov. 17, 2016, regular Board meeting included the discussion item "Referendum Update and Next Steps.' Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt began with the following statement: "With the failure of the District 200 bond-issue referendum, many community members have asked, what’s next? As the Board stated in a Sept. 22, 2016, resolution, it did not endorse any alternative plan and does not intend to pursue previously considered options to rebuild the existing pools in their current locations. The Board will begin discussing next steps in the process of resolving the high school’s facility needs at its Dec. 13, 2016, Special meeting."
The discussion was brief, with Board members noting that the referendum results have not yet been certified and that the Board of Elections has 14 days post-election to do so. Since the results were posted on the night of the election, absentee ballots have continued to be counted. As noted at the Board table last night, the Board of Elections reports that “no” votes still outweigh “yes” votes, though the gap has narrowed to 68 votes from 118 votes. The administration will come back to the Board’s special meeting on Dec. 13 with suggestions on a process for moving forward.
The community voted down referendum by margin of 0.34%, or 118 votes. More information.
UPDATE: According to the certified results from the Cook County Board of Elections, out of 35,676 ballots cast, those opposed to the bond issue prevailed by a margin of 28 votes, or 0.08%.
Investment for Future Generations
In its first major facilities upgrade since the 1960s, the Board of Education unanimously adopted a five-year facilities plan on Aug. 16, 2016, as well as a bond-issue question for the Nov. 8 ballot. The district's last significant renovation of the building occurred between 1965 and 1971, when the community supported the addition of new classrooms, an auditorium, the Little Theatre, the cafeterias, and a gym.
For our fact sheet that compiles all frequently asked questions and finance facts, click here.
The new facilities plan includes:
New classrooms to accommodate 21st century learning.
Improved, expanded facilities to address 20% growth in performing arts class enrollment.
A new 40-meter pool and modernized physical education spaces to replace the two 88-year old pools that together leak 3,000 gallons of water a day.
Renovated locker rooms to mitigate health and safety issues.
Preservation of all green space, so athletic teams do not need to be relocated.
The plan also includes a few learning spaces whose specific use still is being developed; a priority is addressing classroom space needs of theatre and chorus. Overall, the newly approved plan is projected to cost $44.5 million.
A breakdown of the costs can be found in the Finance Facts section here.
The Board intends to finance the project with $20 million in cash and a bond issue. The Board has place a a referendum on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot, which will allow voters to determine if $25 million in bonds should be issued to finance the project. The ballot question reads as follows:
Shall the Board of Education of Oak Park and River Forest Consolidated High School District Number 200, Cook County, Illinois, build and equip a swimming pool addition to replace the existing 88-year-old swimming pools at the Oak Park and River Forest High School Building; alter, repair and equip said School Building to improve the learning, performing arts and locker room spaces therein; improve the site thereof; build and equip a parking garage to replace the existing parking garage; and issue bonds of said School District in an amount not to exceed $25,000,000 for the purpose of paying costs thereof?
According to estimates provided by William Blair & Company, for an Oak Park resident with a median home value of $362,000, the expected tax impact would be an increase of up to $90 in property taxes per year. For a River Forest resident with a median home value of $530,700, the expected tax impact would be an increase of up to $136 in property taxes per year.